M-learning respectively mobile learning is a form of e-learning and describes learning with mobile devices like mobile phones with extended media functionality so-called smartphones. Mobile learning boosts the advantages of e-learning to learn at any time, any place with any pace. To provide m-learning high-performance devices supporting the use of high quality aural, visual and audio-visual media are needed. Not only the right device but also device-specific learning courses and learning tools are required to make spontaneous, short-term and interruptible learning possible. Already successful examples for mobile learning are audio and video podcasts that have become more and more important through web 2.0.
A classic form of learning facts is flashcard learning proposed by Sebastian Leitner in 1972. This learning technique named the “Leitner System” is based on flashcards and a learning box with several compartments.
A question is written on the front side of a flashcard, mostly in form of some keywords. The answer to the question respectively the fact to learn is written on its back side. The learning box consists of 5 compartments with different sizes. The first is the smallest and the last compartment is the largest. At the beginning of the learning process all flashcards are arranged in the first compartment. Each compartment represents the status in ascending numeration how well the learner knows the facts written on the flashcards in each particular compartment.
The learning process starts with taking the first flashcard out of the first compartment of the learning box and answering the question on the front side of it notionally. Is the answer correct, the flashcard has to be moved to the last position of the second compartment. However, if the answer is incorrect the flashcard has to be moved to the last position of the compartment where it was taken from, in that case the first one. Is the second compartment nearly full the learning process continues in a similar manner. The flashcard of a correctly answered question of the second compartment moves to the third compartment, otherwise it moves back to the first one. The process proceeds until the fifth compartment is full or all flashcards are in it. Correctly answered questions of the last compartment have to be sorted out. Incorrectly answered questions have to be moved all the way back to compartment one.
The psychological principle behind the learning strategy is the transportation of knowledge from the short-term memory into the long-term memory.
Flashcard learning is ideal for mobile learning. The time to process each flashcard is very short and the learning process can be interrupted and resumed at any time. The number of flashcards to be processed in a learning sequence and the learning pace can be individually and situationally determined by the learner. Based on the multimedia capabilities of a mobile device like the iPhone or the iPod Touch, not only facts can be learned by flashcards but also skills and capabilities based e.g. on listening to sounds and voices or on observing pictures, graphics or videos associated with a flashcard.